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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Revisiting Brew Crafters

Ben Rosset and Kathy Owen in a
three-player round of "Brew Crafters"
Last January, at UnPub 3, Chris Kirkman (Dice Hate Me Games) and I had the opportunity to playtest Ben Rosset's beer-brewing themed worker-placement game, "Brew Crafters" (at the time under the working title "Brewmasters").  About a month later, Chris and Ben reached agreement to publish "Brew Crafters" under the Dice Hate Me label.  Ben has continued to playtest "Brew Crafters" throughout the year in anticipation of a Kickstarter campaign later this month to fund the initial print run.  A couple of weeks ago, my wife Kathy and I participated in a playtest of the most current version of "Brew Crafters" with Ben.

Ben has made a number of improvements to what was already an excellent game.  Whereas in last January's version, players could gain exclusive control of specialized recipes, the newest version gives  a scoring bonus to the first person to deliver a batch of a special recipe, but otherwise leaves the recipe available to other players for general scoring.  This change opens up the option space for all players while maintaining the motivation to be the first brewer to release a special recipe.  Ben has also added hops infusion and a mash tun for opportunities to improve brewing efficiency and score bonus points.

In my first game last winter, I'd focused on high-scoring specialized fruit-based ale recipes, rather than
My brewing operation near the end of the game -
Lots of hops-infused ale in the lower-right shipping area
investing in brewing capacity.  This time, I thought I'd try going for efficiency and volume.  I had a double-capacity brewing plant with mash tun and, late in the game, hops infusers.  I'd also hired a few special workers - a brewmaster, a yeast converter, and a mash specialist - to improve the efficiency and scoring potential of my operation.  It worked pretty well, but I underestimated the significance of picking up the bonus points for beating the competition to the specialized recipes.  Ben won our game, but Kathy and I did respectably well and both really enjoyed ourselves.  Ben's game is really solid, and he is at the point where he is taking notes for clarification of text but not significantly tweaking mechanics.  This session confirmed my initial assessment that "Brew Crafters" will prove a strong contender in worker placement genre.

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